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‘I will make Lesotho great again’

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Motsamaisi oa tšebeletso, ke kopa hore u ntumelle ke qale ka tsela ena:
Moruuuooooo! Moruuuooooo!! Pele feela uena! Pele feela uena!! Ke nako!
Ke nako!!

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

For many days, I went around this country, asking you to elect my party into government. Today, I address you with a deep sense of gratitude and humility to accept the baton as the Tenth Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho. For me, this address represents a social contract in which I promise to make Lesotho great again.

My remarks this morning form the basis for holding accountable the Government of Lesotho under my leadership. This follows the authority to govern, bestowed upon me by the people of this Kingdom, on the 7th of October, 2022, when they voted in large numbers for my Party, the RFP. The people have spoken. However, I must hasten to say, I am fully aware of the profound nature and deep seriousness of this responsibility, and I don’t take it lightly.

But then, I thank The Almighty God, for I know that His Grace is sufficient for me; and that His power and blessings will multiply in my weakness.

I shall not fear, for he will always hold my hand and give me all the guidance I need.

Sechaba se heso, ke eme mona kapel’a lona kajeno ho amohela thomo ea lona, eo le ileng la mpha eona ka menoana ea lona ka la supa khoeling ena e holimo.

Ke ne ke ile ka qala ka letšolo la “Mamela Sechaba”, moo ke neng ke pota naha ena ea rona; ho mamela mathata le maikutlo a lona. Ke ne ke re ho lona, “Bua Morena; Mohlanka oa hau o mametse.”

Ha ke re ke ’ona mantsoe a neng a buuoe ke Samuel ao? Ha ke se ke le mametse, ’me ke le utloile, eaba ke boetse ke pota hape ka molaetsa o mocha o reng “Ntate, roma ’na ho ea pholosa sechaba sa hau.” Kajeno, ha ke eme mona kapel’a lona, ke bina sefela se secha. Ke re, “Ebe Jesu oa ka u n’u mpone joang na?” ’Me ruri nke ke ka tšoha bobe leha bo le bong hobane O na le ’na.

MORUOOOO! MORUOOOO!!
UMNOTHO!!!

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Recent research shows that Lesotho’s macroeconomic position has been deteriorating since 2015. Our economy has been in recession since 2017.

Lesotho’s public spending has increased over the last few years, and has reached 65% of GDP in this financial year.

Today 86% of Lesotho’s national budget is absorbed by government consumption, particularly public wages that are estimated at 32% of our GDP.

Public procurement, which is roughly 35 percent of GDP, is key in determining the effectiveness of government in delivering essential services, programmes and projects; but it is arguably the worst managed .

Government’s income depends quite heavily on revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), which are declining. In 2022/23 they are expected to decline by 22% of GDP.
Our economy is driven by government spending, which itself depends on debt-financed public investments.

The inability of the private sector to play its part in creating employment has led to a situation in which the public sector has become a critical source of employment for our people.

Yet, as indicated above, the public sector itself does not have a dependable income, a situation which is likely to get worse, going forward. Sadly, even the high spending in the public sector has not translated into satisfactory performance and high productivity. Ours is, all in all, a very unsustainable model of economic growth.

Additionally, the manner in which we spend the meagre resources that we have, also leaves a lot to be desired.

Our capital budget is a tiny 27% of the total budget, compared to the whopping 73% in the recurrent budget. In real numbers Lesotho spends only M6.7 billion a year on its development agenda, and M18 billion on consumption, largely wages. This is not a good investment model.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

It would be remiss of me if I did not mention the importance of climate change, and the risks which it poses for Lesotho’s economic growth efforts. Lesotho is highly exposed to climate change hazards; including droughts, floods, storms, strong winds, heavy snowfall, and severe frost.

Floods from extreme rainfall in Lesotho occur relatively frequently; and they adversely impact the population, economic activity, and the environment. Existing climate hazards pose substantial risk to water infrastructure and service delivery.

Climate change will further stress our water reserves, which as you know, is one of Lesotho’s most valuable resources, contributing no less than 8 to 10 percent to our GDP. Predictably, this will destabilise farming systems, decrease agricultural productivity and raise the level of food insecurity for thousands of our people who rely for survival on subsistence farming.

The quality and quantity of water generated in Lesotho’s wetlands will decline overtime, ultimately impacting the volume of water Lesotho has for domestic consumption and for export. Land degradation, soil erosion and bad land management practices can only worsen this situation.

Another challenge we have had over the years is that Lesotho has failed to tap and realise the potential economic returns on the existing positive investment environment. The Government of Lesotho maintains a strong commitment to private investment and is generally open to Foreign Direct Investment. The Government of Lesotho welcomes foreign direct investments that:

1. Create jobs and opens new markets and industries in accordance with the national objective of diversifying Lesotho’s industrial base;

2. Improve skills and productivity of the workforce and nurtures local business suppliers and partners;

3. Support knowledge and technology transfer and diffusion and

4. Improve the quality and accessibility of infrastructure.

The following are potential investment sectors in Lesotho:

1. RENEWABLE ENERGY which includes Hydro power, Wind energy and solar energy

2. AGRO INDUSTRY which includes crop farming, aquaculture, livestock farming, and horticulture,

3. MANUFACTURING which includes textile and garments industry, leather and footwear, consumer electrical and electronic appliances, packaging materials and accessories and automotive components

4. INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONSTRUCTION which includes opportunities in the development of commercial and industrial property development, opportunities in Information and Communication Technology particularly the development of a shared broad band infrastructure company to support the Information and Communication Technology services industry and opportunities in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project

5. MINING which includes diamond mining and sandstone quarrying and water bottling

6. TOURSIM which includes accommodation facilities, Health and wellness resorts, water and sports recreation and high altitude training facilities.

I call on our investors and friends to visit, explore and invest in this beautiful country.

Your Majesty, It is against this backdrop that Your new Government is assuming the responsibility to preside over the affairs of Lesotho’s public service, to deliver public goods and services, and to enable the realization of the fundamental human rights of every Mosotho.

Your new Government is, on the one hand, facing the critical challenge of addressing inclusive growth and providing access to quality services for all; while at the same time operating in a difficult economic situation and highly fragile climatic conditions on the other.

Your new Government is confronted with the critical challenge of having to move Lesotho from a growth model that depends almost entirely on the public sector, to one that is driven by a strong and competitive private sector, that is export oriented.

As Lesotho pursues this new growth model, the importance of expediting ongoing National Reforms cannot be overemphasized. Lesotho’s journey towards peace, political stability and tolerance has improved over the years following the resolution of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Double Troika Summit held on 24 April, 2018 in Luanda Angola. I thank you, your

Excellency President Ramaphosa and your right hand man – the leader of the mediation team retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke for your commendable efforts in leading and guiding our national dialogue and reform agenda.

I promise to expedite the successful completion of the national agenda a journey towards the LESOTHO WE WANT.
Your Majesty,

Your new Government has to fix the imbalances mentioned earlier and achieve macroeconomic stability. It has to reform the public service to make it more efficient, transparent, accountable and effective.

We have to uproot corruption and stop the rampant embezzlement of public funds.

These things have to be done in order to restore the hope of our people, and to solicit their buy-in as we prepare to launch our country on to new horizons, and higher and more ambitious levels of development.

I promise that I will spearhead the process to right our country’s historical wrongs and make Lesotho great again.

We are equal to this task, and we will not be found wanting. It would be naive of me if I were to imagine that the road ahead will be smooth. Certainly not. But change is a binding imperative in our present situation.

The absence of a rigorous system of monitoring and evaluation can easily foster a culture of impunity, in which there are no consequences for poor performance and wrong-doing.

The new Government will increase accountability in the public sector by creating a system in which performance, expected of all public officers, will be transparently stated and reported upon; and there will be social engagement around what performance has been achieved and what services have actually been delivered.

Under my leadership, Your Majesty, Your Government will pursue the following key strategic goals as already outlined in the second national strategic development plan:

1. Enhance inclusive and sustainable economic growth and private sector job creation;

2. Strengthen the human capital;

3. Build an enabling infrastructure;

4. Strengthen national governance and accountability systems for improved service delivery;

5. Strengthen climate risk management resilience and adaptation; and

6. Strengthen public financial management.

Our ability to achieve these six strategic goals will be largely dependent on the actions which Government will take in the first 100 days of its tenure.

I therefore, take this opportunity, Government Secretary, to turn to you, and to publicly instruct you that, over and above your duties as spelt out in Section 12 of the Public Service Act of 2005, and Section 97 of the Constitution, and while you will work with, and through all the relevant government and non-governmental offices, you should roll out the following 20-point programme in the first 100 days of our tenure:

1. Prepare my performance contract and those of Honourable Ministers and ensure that they are signed in 30 days. Then make those contracts public.

2. Prepare and sign performance contracts with Principal Secretaries in 30 days, and make those contracts public.

3. Develop tools and a standardised system of performance reporting and reflection for the whole of government, including District Administrators and Local Authorities in the first 100 days.

4. Develop a system through which citizens can monitor and report on the performance of the public sector and through which their inputs can be recorded and responded to, in the first 100 days.

5. Use appropriate public service legislation and policies and deploy relevant public officials to the authority of District Administrators, and District, Urban and Community Councils in 100 days, and make sure that District Administrators and Councils are accountable for the government’s programme of action and service delivery in their respective districts.

6. Develop and implement a plan to cut unnecessary government spending on fleet management and fuel consumption in the first 100 days.

7. Develop a plan of how government should capacitate the Institution of Chieftainship for improved service delivery, accountability and good governance, targeting chiefs who serve their communities on a daily basis for twenty-four hours.

8. In 100 days take stock of all government vehicles, rationalise them and provide each local authority in Lesotho with at least one vehicle to enable them to conduct the business of government.

9. In 30 days, provide a report on budget monitoring for all ongoing capital projects. The reports should clearly state what projects should be closed down, which should continue and which should be redesigned for maximum impact.

10. Develop a plan for improving aid and donor coordination and organise a meeting for my office with all partners and donors in 10 days.

11. Pay outstanding allowances for all village health workers in 100 days.

12. Develop a reporting plan for all state-owned enterprises in 30 days and make the reporting plan public.

13. Organise a meeting between my office and all District Administrators and Council Chairpersons in 10 days.

14. Organise a meeting between my office and all Media Institutions in Lesotho and Civil Society Organisations in 15 days.

15. Take action on the M6.1 billion indicated in the Auditor General’s queries and make the action public in 15 days.

16. Develop, publish and implement a crime control programme in the first 15 days.

17. Establish and publicise a corruption, theft and embezzlement amnesty programme in 30 days.

18. In 30 days prepare a report on all companies in which Government has shares, explaining which companies are paying their due dividends and which are not and why.

19. In 30 days prepare a list of all people who are owed money by Government and make your recommendations accordingly.

20. In 60 days identify all areas of public financial wastage and make your recommendations accordingly.

Sechaba sa heso, ha ke ntse ke pota naha ena ke iketa ho lona, ke ile ka le bolella hore rona koana khoebong mo re tsoang teng, re phela feela ka bophethahatsi. Ha ke etsa tjena, e s’e le ha ke qalile.

Ke lumela ka tieo hore ofisi ea Mongoli e Moholo oa ’Muso e tla nthusa ka litaba tsena tseo ke li kopileng, e le hore ke tle ke tsebe ho tla boela ke hlaha kapel’a lona ho le hlalosetsa hore na re se re le hakae phethahatsong ea litšepiso tsa rona ho lona.

Ke ipiletsa ka matla ho lona Bahlanka ba sechaba hore le mpe le thuse Mongoli e Moholo oa ’Muso hore a thethe tšebetso ena; etsoe ’nete e le lona matsoho ao a sebetsang ka ’ona makaleng ka ho fapana. Ke ipiletsa le ho lona sechaba sa heso hore moo le koptjoang ho etsa tlatsetso, le etse joalo, e le ho re thusa ho phethahatsa mosebetsi; etsoe lintho tsena li reretsoe ho ntlafatsa bophelo ba lona le ba bana ba lona.

Ke ipiletsa le ho Basotho ba sebetsang le ho lula linaheng tse ling hore shebang hantle beng ba ka, le bone menyetla eo le ka e fumanang ea ho khutlela hae le tl’o re thusa ka litsebo tsa lona ho ntlafatsa naha ena ea habo rona. Motletlehi Moshoeshoe oa Bobeli o ne a ee are, “Mphe- mphe ea lapisa, molekane. Motho o khonoa ke sa ntlo ea hae.” Khomo e oetse. Tlohong re tl’o bona hore na re kopanyang matsoho joang ho e nyolla.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Over the years our country has benefitted generously from our development partners, who have always been willing to part with the little that they had to assist us in our developments efforts.

We are truly thankful; and we request you not to lose heart; seeing that some of you have been with us for many years, without realising the achievements that you expected. We are getting there. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

And in this connection, please allow me to acknowledge with sincere appreciation the presence in this ceremony of the Presidential delegation from the United States, led by the MCC Chief Executive Officer, Her Excellency Ms. Alice Albright. We view the presence of this delegation here as recognition by the US Government of the smooth transfer of political power here in Lesotho.

It remains for me now to express my hearty gratitude to our esteemed visitors from outside our borders, who have come from far and near, and have found time in their busy schedules, to honour and grace this occasion with their valuable presence.

We thank you, Excellencies. We hope you have enjoyed the warm hospitality of our people, and that this will not be the last time that you come to visit our beautiful Kingdom in the sky.

We bid you bon voyage as you return to your countries.

Basotho ba heso, kea le leboha ha le tlile ka bongata bona ho tla fetoha lipaki ha mohlanka oa lona a amohela lesokoana la puso. Lea bona hore litheko tsa rona le bana bo-mpato’a ka li teteane; re entse tlama-thata.

Ha re na ho le phoqa. Re tla lula re ntse re kopane ka linako tsohle; ’me re tla le sebeletsa ka botšepehi le ka boitelo. Ke le kopa hore le re rapelle ka linako tsohle; ’me moo ho lumellahang le etse tlatsetso ka litsela tsohle tseo le ka tlatsetsang ka tsona; etsoe letšoele le beta poho.

Tsamaeang ka khotso, sechaba sa heso, le khutlele metseng le metsaneng ea lona. Molimo o matla ’ohle O le pepe ho ea finyella malapeng a lona.

KHOTSO!! PULA!! NALA!!!

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Insight

The Joker Returns: Conclusion

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Last week I was talking about how jokes, or humour generally, can help get one through the most desperate situations (although it’s like taking a paracetamol for a headache; a much, much stronger resort is faith). I used the example of how Polish Jews, trapped and dying in the Warsaw ghetto, used humour to get them through day by day.

A similar, though less nightmarish, situation obtains in today’s Nigeria. Conditions there are less hellish than those of the Warsaw ghetto, but still pretty awful. There are massive redundancies, so millions of people are jobless. Inflation is at about 30% and the cost of living is sky-rocketing, with the most basic foodstuffs often unavailable. There is the breakdown of basic social services.

And endemic violence, with widespread armed robbery (to travel by road from one city to another you take your life in your hands) and the frequent kidnapping for ransom of schoolchildren and teachers. In a recent issue of the Punch newspaper (Lagos) Taiwo Obindo, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Jos, writes of the effects of economic hardship and insecurity on his people’s mental health.

He concludes: “We should see the funny side of things. We can use humour to handle some things. Don’t take things to heart; laugh it off.”

Professor Obindo doesn’t, regrettably, give examples of the humour he prescribes, but I remember two from a period when things were less grim. Power-cuts happened all the time — a big problem if you’re trying to work at night and can’t afford a generator.

And so the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was universally referred to as Never Expect Power Always. And second, for inter-city travel there was a company called Luxurious Buses. Believe me, the average Lesotho kombi is a great deal more luxurious (I can’t remember ever having to sit on the floor of one of those).

And because of the dreadful state of Nigerian roads and the frequent fatal crashes, Luxurious Buses were referred to as Luxurious Hearses.

Lesotho’s newspaper thepost, for which I slave away tirelessly, doesn’t use humour very much. But there is Muckraker. I’ve always wondered whether Muckraker is the pen-name of a single person or a group who alternate writing the column.

Whatever, I’d love to have a drink with him / her/ them and chew things over. I like the ironic pen-name of the author(s). Traditionally speaking, a muckraker is a gossip, someone who scrabbles around for titbits (usually sexual) on the personal life of a celebrity — not exactly a noble thing to do.

But thepost’s Muckraker exposes big problems, deep demerits, conducted by those who should know and do better — problems that the powerful would like to be swept under the carpet, and the intention of Muckraker’s exposure is corrective.

And I always join in the closing exasperated “Ichuuuu!” (as I do this rather loudly, my housemates probably think I’m going bonkers).

Finally I want to mention television satire. The Brits are renowned for this, an achievement dating back to the early 1960s and the weekly satirical programme “TW3” (That Was The Week That Was). More recently we have had “Mock the Week”, though, despite its popularity, the BBC has cancelled this.

The cancellation wasn’t for political reasons. For decades the UK has been encumbered with a foul Conservative government, though this year’s election may be won by Labour (not such very good news, as the Labour leadership is only pseudo-socialist). “Mock the Week” was pretty even-handed in deriding politicians; the BBC’s problem was, I imagine, with the programme’s frequent obscenity.

As an example of their political jokes, I quote a discussion on the less than inspiring leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer. One member of the panel said: “Labour may well have a huge lead in the polls at present, but the day before election day Starmer will destroy it by doing something like accidentally infecting David Attenborough with chicken-pox.”

And a favourite, basically non-political interchange on “Mock the Week” had to do with our former monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever one thinks about the British monarchy as an institution, the Queen was much loved, but the following interchange between two panellists (A and B) was fun:

A: Is the Queen’s nickname really Lilibet?
B: Yes, it is.
A: I thought her nickname was Her Majesty.
B: That’s her gang name.

OK, dear readers, that’s enough humour from me for a while. Next week I’m turning dead serious — and more than a little controversial — responding to a recent Insight piece by Mokhosi Mohapi titled “A reversal of our traditions and culture.” To be forewarned is to be prepared.

Chris Dunton

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Insight

Reading, writing and the art of reflection

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There is a close thread that runs through what you reflect on, what you read and what sticks in your mind. It’s almost a cyclic process with regards to how all these processes unfold. Today, in this installment we focus on the thread between reading, reflection and writing.

This appears a bit cumbersome to explain. But let’s simplify it. Let’s begin with a beautiful poem which encompasses what we have so far spoken about. Here we are! The poem is penned by “Tachibama Akemi.” It goes:

It is a pleasure
When, rising in the morning,
I go outside and
Find that a flower has blossomed
That was not there yesterday.

Seemingly, the poem is simple. But, on close analysis, it reflects very deep reflection and thoughtfulness.

The persona, in an existential fashion, reflects all about the purpose and meaning of life and his place in the overall matrix of life.

The persona carefully reflects on nature. This is what makes all this poem rustic and romantic.

The persona thinks deeply about the blossoming flowers and how the process of the growth of flowers appears almost inadvertently.

It is a poem about change, healing, the lapse of time and the changes or vissiccitudes in the life of a person are reflected creatively through imagery and poetry. We all go through that, isn’t it? We all react and respond to love, truth and beauty.

So far everything appears very interesting. Let’s just put to the fore some good and appealing thoughts. Let’s enlarge on reading, writing and reflection.

Kindly keep in mind that thoughts must be captured, told, expressed and shared through the magical power of the written word.

As a person, obviously through keeping entries in a journal, there is no doubt that you have toyed about thoughts and ideas and experiences you wish you could put across.

Here is an example you can peek from Anthony. Anthony likes writing. He tells us that in his spare time he likes exploring a lot. And, more often than not he tells us,

“I stop, and think, and then when I find something, I just keep on writing.”

So crisp, but how beautiful. Notice something interesting here; you need to stop, to take life effortlessly and ponderously, as it were; observe, be attentive to your environment; formulate thought patterns and then write.

To some extent, this article builds on our previous experiences when we spoke at length about the reading process.

But how can you do it? It’s not pretty much different. I can help you from my previous life as a teacher of English Languge.

The most important skill you must cultivate is that of listening, close listening. Look at how people and events mingle.

What makes both of you happy; enjoy it. I am sure you still keep that journal in which you enter very beautiful entries. Reflect about Maseru, the so-called affluent city. So majestic!

How can you picture it in writing!

I am glad you learnt to reflect deep and write. Thank you very much. Kindly learn and perfect the craft of observing, reflecting and writing. Learn that connection. Let’s meet for another class.

Vuso Mhlanga

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Insight

The Joker Returns: Part One

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Don’t be put off by the title, esteemed readers; what follows has nothing to do with the Batman films. As you will be happily (or unhappily) aware, I am a big fan of jokes. There’s a common understanding that a joke is ruined if you have to explain it, and this is true, but some jokes do need a bit of background explanation. Anyway. I like jokes and I like thinking about how they work.

Many of my favourite jokes have to do with language and the way we use it. For example: “I just bought myself a thesaurus. I similar it very much.”

Other jokes have to do with human behaviour and here it is important, out of respect for others, to avoid jokes that perpetuate stereotypical ideas about gender, race, nationality, and so on. I’m afraid the following joke does depend upon a stereotype (I’ll come back to that), but here goes, after a bit of background information.

In Lesotho you have an insect called a praying mantis — stick-like, bright green, and with great bulging eyes. They are rather lovable, despite the off-putting fact that the female practices insect cannibalism; after mating, she consumes the male. So, now you’ve had your zoological primer, here goes.

Two praying mantises are getting up close and personal. The female says to the male: “before we have sex and I bite your head off, could you help me put up some shelves?”

Apologies to female readers, because, as I said, that joke perpetuates a gender stereotype, namely, that women are good with a vacuum cleaner or a dustpan and brush, but hopeless with a hammer and nails.

There are many jokes that are, as it were, much more serious than that. As I rattled on about in a couple of earlier columns, many of these are satirical — jokes that are designed to point a finger at human folly or even wickedness. In another column, titled “Should we laugh?”, I explored the question “is there any subject that should be kept out of the range of humour?”

Well, apparently not, if we take on board the following account of the Warsaw ghetto.

Historical preface first.

The Warsaw ghetto represents one of the worst atrocities in modern history. In November 1940 the genocidal Nazis rounded up all the Jews in Poland’s capital and herded them into a small sector of the city, which they euphemistically, cynically, dubbed the “Jewish Residential District in Warsaw.”

Here nearly half a million Jews were in effect imprisoned, barely subsisting on tiny food rations. An estimated quarter of a million were sent off to the death camps. An uprising against the Nazi captors was brutally crushed. Around 100 000 died of starvation or disease.

Not much to laugh about there, you might say. But then consider the following, which I’ve taken from the New York Review of Books of February 29th this year:

“In the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1941 Mary Berg, then a teenager, wrote in her diary about the improbable persistence of laughter in that hellish place: ‘Every day at the Art Café on Leszno Street one can hear songs and satire on the police, the ambulance service, the rickshaws, and even the Gestapo, [on the latter] in a veiled fashion. The typhoid epidemic itself is the subject of jokes. It is laughter through tears, but it is laughter. This is not our only weapon in the ghetto — our people laugh at death and at the Nazi decrees. Humour is the only thing the Nazis cannot understand.’”

To be concluded

Chris Dunton

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